Fun Time: No Slithering on the Plane Please
I haven’t stepped on a plane in almost a decade and I’m not eager to fly again anytime soon, largely because of all the animals I might encounter on a plane—and I’m not just referring to rude passengers. I’m mainly referring to other members of the animal kingdom, the ones without middle fingers. On a recent domestic flight in Malaysia, for example, a snake was spotted slithering inside an overhead light fixture.
The AirAsia flight was heading from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau but had to be diverted to Kuching. I’m not sure why Kuching was selected, but perhaps the snake had boarded the wrong flight and was planning to vacation in Kuching. The pilot must have first made an announcement to determine if the Kuching landing was necessary, being careful to not cause any panic: “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. If any of you is traveling with a companion, can you please confirm that your companion is still with you and has not slithered away without your knowledge? If your companion is missing, please let us know and we will do our best to reunite you.”
Any passenger taking a snake aboard the plane would have done so illegally, of course. While most airlines allow small dogs and cats to travel in pet carriers and be kept inside passenger cabins, snakes must be stored in the luggage compartment (or cargo hold) of a plane. The International Air Transport Association’s Live Animals Regulations include specific storage instructions for snakes to ensure that the snakes remain alive during a flight, and just as importantly, remain in place.
I haven’t read the instructions, but as far as I know, when the pilot turns off the seat belt sign, snakes aren’t allowed to move around the plane. Please do not feel sorry for them. They do not have any legs to stretch. There is also an unwritten rule on planes that slithering is prohibited, whether you’re a snake or a human. Trust me, if you try to slither down the aisle of a plane, people will panic. They will think you are trying to attack someone, or even worse, attack the liquor cart.
A video of the AirAsia snake went viral after someone shared it on TikTok. AirAsia’s chief security officer Liong Tien Ling confirmed the incident in a statement to CNN Turk. “As soon as the captain was notified, the plane was diverted to Kuching to be disinfected,” he said, noting that no passenger was injured in the incident.
The pilot must have made another announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, as some of you may have noticed, we have a snake traveling with us today. Please do not panic. The snake is participating in a new form of in-flight entertainment that we are debuting today. We call it Bringing the Zoo to You. Unfortunately the snake is feeling air sick and wants to get off the plane at the nearest airport. That is why we are landing in Kuching.”
I’m not sure how the plane was “disinfected,” but I hope the snake was not harmed. I hope AirAsia called the right employee to handle the snake, perhaps the airline’s Director of Snake Relations or Chief Reptile Officer (CRO).
Would an airline really have a CRO on its staff? Well, just look at what Ling, the chief security officer, told Channel News Asia: “This is a very rare incident which can occur on any aircraft from time to time.”
In other words, snake sightings “can occur on any aircraft from time to time.” This is why every airline needs a CRO and why I won’t be flying again until some of the unwritten rules of flying, such as “no slithering” and “no flicking of tongues,” are actually written down and enforced.
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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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